Henry Kissinger backed Turkish tactics in 1974 Cyprus invasion

Henry Kissinger, U.S. Secretary of State at the time of Turkey’s 1974 invasion of Cyprus told then U.S. President Gerald Ford that Turkey was entitled to seize part of the island, according to the National Herald, a U.S. newspaper focusing on Greek affairs.

“There is no American reason why the Turks should not have one-third of Cyprus,” Kissinger told Ford, according to declassified minutes of a meeting between the two, held after Turkey had launched an initial invasion that gained control of 3 percent of the eastern Mediterranean island and as internationally brokered peace talks in Geneva aimed at resolving the crisis took place.

“The Turkish tactics are right – grab what they want and then negotiate on the basis of possession,” Kissinger said.

The comments came despite Greece, Turkey’s protagonist in the dispute over the island, having been a long-standing U.S. ally. Minutes of the meeting reveal that Kissinger believed Turkey to be a more important ally than Greece and that in the event of war between Greece and Turkey, the United States should back Turkey.

“We certainly do not want a war between the two, but if it came to that, Turkey is more important to us,” he said. “They have a political structure which could produce a Gaddafi,” referring to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

The day after the August 1974 meeting, Turkey launched a second invasion of the island, 90 minutes after Geneva peace talks broke up, eventually gaining control of around 40 percent of the island.

The newly revealed information adds to long-standing claims that Kissinger implicitly supported the invasion of Cyprus, which Turkeys says was launched to protect Turkish-Cypriots and which played a key role in the collapse of Greece’s military junta.    

Cyprus remains divided to this day. In 1983, the Turkish Cypriot leader proclaimed the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, recognised only by Turkey. Numerous diplomatic initiatives aimed at reunifying the island have taken place in the more than 40 years since 1974, but none have thus far succeeded.